Saturday, August 31, 2013

Vanilla Yoghurt Cake with Orange Glaze

On Thursday, I delivered a speech at a seminar.  I have been working on weekends for two months, writing a paper, and preparing slides, then practising my presentation.  It is such a relief to finally have it off my plate!  No matter what the feedback is eventually (attendees fill out feedback sheets which will be analysed and the results provided to me), it is done and dusted, and that is an achievement in itself.  This means I am free to bake and blog and watch TV again!
A cake that I made last week was a Vanilla Yoghurt Cake with Orange Glaze that I found here on Peabody's blog. I had yoghurt, I had an orange, so this was the perfect cake at the time.

This one was a hit at work because someone commented to me that it wasn't too sweet. I liked it because it was so light and airy.  The only change I made to the recipe was to use vanilla sugar as I didn't have any vanilla beans.

It's a perfect tea-time cake - I'd definitely make this cake again.

Friday, August 30, 2013

FFwD - Floating Islands

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Floating Islands.  Floating Islands is not as romantic as it sounds - normally it comprises quenelles of poached meringue floating in crème anglaise.  I really don't like that version of floating islands much

However, this week's version of floating islands is a little different in that the meringue is baked.  This small change lifted the flavour out of the stratosphere - I liked this so much better.

Instead of crème anglaise, I made custard with good old Foster Clark's custard powder.  Yum!

To see what everyone else thought of this week's pick, visit the LYL section of the website.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WWDH - Roasted Sweet Potato Pasta

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay pick comes from Chaya.  She has chosen Roasted Sweet Potato Pasta.

The pasta was supposed to be 400g of spaghetti or linguine, but I had 250g of spiral pasta in the pantry, so that is what I used.  I also only used one sweet potato and one tomato, substituted cheddar for parmesan and left out the feta and olive oil.  I still think my version of this pasta tasted fantastic!

This pasta is very satisfying and is very tasty - it is perfect for dinner, and for lunches - which is what I will do with the leftovers.  I would happily make this again.

To see what Chaya, Kayte, Margaret and Sarah thought of this dish, visit their websites.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hopetoun Tea Rooms, Block Arcade, Melbourne


An establishment that is part of the fabric of Melbourne is the Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the heritage Block Arcade.  The Hopetoun Tea Rooms are named after their founder, Lady Hopetoun, and were established  in 1892: 

The two drawbacks of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms are the queues and the prices ($8.50 for a take home vanilla slice).  However, these are outweighed by the pros - a gorgeous heritage setting, fabulous cakes displayed in the window (made by a Jamaican pastry chef), and just a nice place for coffee, cake and a chat:  

I have been there twice recently with my friend Sandra.  I have tried the mango mousse cake: 

 which is absolutely devine if you like mango:

and the fig delight, a cheesecake like concoction:

For me, the mango mousse cake was the winner. 
I enjoyed the cakes with the Snow White Tea Blend (apple, raspberry), but they serve a wide range of teas, wonderful cold drinks and coffee too.
The first time around, we had a white tablecloth, but there was no tablecloth the second time around - perhaps because they were too busy.  It didn't worry me - I was there for the cake.
And of course, the philosophy of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms is:

If you are in Melbourne and don't mind waiting a while in a queue (we waited around 20 minutes the second time around, but you don't have to wait if you book high tea), the Hopetoun Tea Rooms are worth a visit.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms
Shops 1 and 2
282 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 9650 2777

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lemonade scones

On this peaceful Sunday, I am bringing you a simple, quick but tasty recipe - Lemonade Scones.  I don't make scones very often because they do not keep - if you don't eat them all on day 1, they are like rocks the next day.  However, I was inspired to make scones by this very lovely advertisement for Queen vanilla, featuring the beautiful music of Thelma Plum and Indigo from Series 2 of Junior Masterchef as the baker - all Queenslanders like me:

Isn't this the loveliest ad you have seen in a long time?  They play it during The Great Australian Bakeoff, which is how I came to see it.

I had some cream and lemonade in the fridge, so rather than making lavender scones like Indigo on the ad, I made lemonade scones.  They are lighter and fluffier inside than ordinary scones:

I used this recipe by Valli Little from

These scones were really good - I served them solely with strawberry jam, as I didn't have any whipping cream.  Two wags asked where the cream was - I told them it's BYO cream.  It didn't seem to matter - the scones disappeared regardless.

I hope that you are all having a fabulous weekend, and that you enjoy making some scones!

Friday, August 23, 2013

FFwD - Boulevard Raspail Corn on the Cob

We've made it to Friday again - my favourite day of the week.  For French Fridays with Dorie this week, we have not so much a recipe as a cooking technique - for corn on the cob.

This technique, named "Boulevard Raspail" after the name of a street market in France that sells organic produce, from whence Dorie got the idea, involves roasting corn in the husk in the oven for 40 minutes, then peeling off its "pajamas" and liberally dousing the corn with butter, salt and pepper.

I have done something very similar using a microwave for 3 minutes instead of oven roasting - I found that idea on the Internet. 

What can I say - the corn tastes  good this way, but corn tastes good boiled, or dare I say it, in the microwave.  However, if you are already roasting some veges, chuck in some corn as well - you get yourself a nice one pot dish.

To see what the rest of the FFwD group thought, visit the LYL section of the website. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WWDH - Honey Cakes

Today's Wednesday with Donna Hay pick comes from Margaret, who chose Honey Cakes from Off the Shelf.  You can find the recipe online here.

These little cakes are a cinch to make, smell devine while baking and taste just right, with a crunchy outside and a crumbly soft middle.

I skipped the cream and honey garnish - I felt it was gilding  the lily a little, and besides, I made my cakes in the shape of owls - and they are awesome.  (Yes, it is hard to see the detail - someone at work thought they were teddy bears; however, I had fun with them anyway.)

I served my honey cake as dessert to my provencal beef, made in the slow cooker:

To finish off, i could not help but share with you the gorgeous vintage advertising cup:

and plate:

that I bought on sale at Myer.  They live on my desk at work so that I have my own special crockery to brighten up the day.

To see what Margaret, Kayte, Chaya and Sarah thought of these honey cakes, check out their websites.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tropical pineapple and coconut cake - No FFwD

This week is makeup week at French Fridays with Dorie.  The only recipe that I haven't made so far is salmon in a jar - and I ain't making that.  So this week, there is no FFWD  from me.

I wanted to start with a shout-out to the lovely guys at J&T Electrical in Ashburton, who saved me from a weekend without baking by fixing my errant Kitchenaid.  The pivot pin had come nearly all the way out and would not go back in, despite all of my substantial will being applied, but J&T Electrical fixed it for me in a few minutes.  Hooray - I am back in action!

Instead of FFWD, this Friday I am bringing you an absolutely delicious Pineapple and Coconut Cake, based on a recipe for Coconut Pineapple Crumb Cake by Gesine Bullock Prado at G Bakes.  It is a beauty.

Instead of making the recipe into cupcakes like Gesine, I made one big cake, and I skipped the crumble topping - I could not live with adding 4 sticks of butter on top of the 2 sticks in the cake.  I also made a couple of other tweaks.  The end result was magnificent, and the cake was enjoyed whole-heartedly by my colleagues.

If you would like to try this tropical treat, you will need:

250g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup drained crushed pineapple

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Spray an 8" round deep cake tin with oil, then line the base with baking paper and spray the baking paper with oil.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add the flour and combined alternately, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix until just combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut and pineapple

Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin, then bake for one hour or until cooked through.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then unmould onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WWDH - Pear, Fennel and Bleu Cheese Salad

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay pick comes from Kayte, who chose the Pear, Fennel and Bleu Cheese Salad from Modern Classics I.

This is a really tasty little salad that is simple to put together - just toss rocket (I used baby spinach), pear slices, baby fennel slices and blue cheese together, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, serve with a piece of toast, and Bob's your uncle.

It is a meal in itself, or you can serve it on the side.

To see what Kayte, Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought of this salad, visit their websites.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Florentine Slice

I love Florentine biscuits, but they can be rather fiddly to make.  For this reason, I was pretty excited when I found a recipe for Florentine Slice on Alice in Bakingland.  It is really simple - the slice is made all in one bowl (except for melting the chocolate), and is simply a matter of mixing cornflakes and condensed milk with nuts and fruits, baking, cooling and topping with melted chocolate.  Easy peasy!

The recipe (with my adaptations) is as follows:

400g can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped Medjool dates
70g slivered almonds
1 cup toasted blanched almonds
½ cup diced dried prunes
½ cup chopped glace cherries
3 ½ cups cornflakes
200g roughly chopped dark chocolate
Preheat your oven to 180 °C.  Grease and line a slice tin (mine is roughly 20cm x 30cm).

Place everything except the chocolate into a large bowl and combine well.

Press mixture into the prepared slice tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the slice form the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack then chill it in the fridge until cold.

Melt the chocolate  and spread evenly over the top of the slice.  Return the slice to the fridge and chill it until the chocolate is set.

Cut the slice into squares and store in the fridge. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pumpkin Pineapple and Prune Cake

Now that my family has gone home and life is back to its usual rhythm, I have taken up baking again.  This week, I made Pumpkin Pineapple and Prune Cake, a recipe by Womens Weekly reader Genevieve Clark from Geelong West, and which featured in the April 2013 edition of the Australian Womens Weekly.

I probably would have forgotten all about this recipe except that when I was tidying up for my family's visit, I decided to tear out the recipes from a magazine on my coffee table before disposing of the rest.  That's when my memory was jogged and this recipe came back to the "must make" list.

Even then, it took me a while to get around to it.  Out of laziness, I bought a piece of pumpkin, but forgot the crushed pineapple, so the poor piece of pumpkin ended going mouldy, forgotten in the crisper box.

I bought another piece of pumpkin, but again forgot the pineapple.  I ended up mashing some of the pumpkin for dinner, but I finally remembered the pineapple and made the cake.

I took the cake to work, and it was a surprise hit.  Who knew something fruity and healthy-ish be such a hit.  It was a sweet cake with plenty of texture, and I think it would be great without the icing.

Tempted? To  make this cake, you will need:

1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup course grated butternut pumpkin 
1/2 cup chopped prunes
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple (drained)
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake pan and also line with baking paper.
 Sift together the flours, sugar and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Add oil, eggs, pumpkin, prunes and pineapple to the bowl and stir all ingredients together until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35- 45 mins (or until cooked through).  Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cake is completely cool, ice with a lemon glaze made from icing sugar and lemon juice.

Friday, August 9, 2013

FFwD - Duck with Peaches

For French Fridays with Dorie this week, we were assigned Duck Breasts with Fresh Peaches.  Fresh peaches being few and far between here at this time of year, I used canned peaches.  My poultry vendor, bless, also does not sell or does not understand the difference between a duck breast and a duck leg.  Being the carefree, go with the flow kind of gal that I am (ha!), I threw caution to the wind and bought the duck leg.

I did not expect to enjoy this - the last time I tried to cook duck, I did so as a newbie and without a recipe.  The result was pretty horrid.  However, on this occasion, with Dorie's guidance on cooking and the beautiful sauce recipe, this duck was a doddle to make and delicious to eat.  In the sauce, I subbed red wine for port, as I wasn't going to buy a bottle of port for two tablespoons to put in this sauce.

If I happen to come across some duck again, I would definitely cook it like this.  To see what the other Dorie cooks thought, visit the LYL section of the website.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WWDH - Green Curry Chicken with Sweet Potato

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay recipe is Green Curry Chicken with Sweet Potato, chosen by me from Off the Shelf.

My biggest problem with this one is that when I went to use my green curry paste, it had dried out - so I had to use curry powder instead.  That is why my curry is yellow rather than green.  Oh well.  I also sliced my chicken breasts rather than just have a chunk on the plate, like the recipe stated.

This curry tasted just fine, but it didn't wow me.   I get it though - Off the Shelf is meant to be tasty meals made with ingredients "off the shelf", so it's not meant to be fancy or the best thing you have ever tasted.

To see what Kayte, Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought of this dish, visit their websites.

Friday, August 2, 2013

FFwD - Tzatziki

This is a fabulous French Friday with Dorie.  It's not because of the weather in Melbourne today - after the most glorious week of warm weather we've had in ages, it turned today, and it is rainy and cold and windy.  No, it's because I have been on leave this week, spending time with my family who are visiting from Queensland.  It has been a wonderful week and I am sad that it has drawn to a close so quickly.

For FFwD this week, we had to make Tzatziki.  I was not excited about this, as I have only tasted commercially made tzatziki  that is sour and horrible.

However, this tzatziki was a revelation - it was creamy and smooth and very tasty with crackers.  I have a whole new perspective on tzatziki.  I substituted the dill for chives and left out the mint - I really don't think it mattered.

To see what the other Doristas/Doristos thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website.